What a difference two years can make. During the campaign of 2012, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was attacked by Democrats for being a Fiscal Conservative and calling for the reining in of Federal spending. Ryan--and everyone of his ilk--was portrayed as cold-hearted, greedy and sadistic for not wanting to increase spending in Washington--or more accurately borrowing in Washington--to "get the economy moving again" and to "improve economic fairness". The loss of the Romney-Ryan tickets was hailed by the left as a "clear rejection by the American People of fiscal conservatism".
But here we are in 2014 and suddenly being a Fiscal Conservative is in vogue. None other than Democrats Mark Harris and Mary Burke labeled themselves as being "Fiscal Conservatives" in separate interviews this week. Harris made his comments on Upfront With Mike Gousha, Burke made hers during an appearance before the Milwaukee Press Club. It's unfortunate that both of these public utterances weren't accompanied by laugh tracks--or at least an interruption by someone who knows the actual definition of "Fiscal Conservatism".
In the same interview that Harris touted his "conservative credentials" he also called for employers to be forced by the Government to give low-skill, low-demand workers a 22-percent pay increase. He also called for states to spend more on post-secondary education so students would have to pay less and he also defended the trillion dollar price tag of the Affordable Care Act. You may also recall his disastrous suggestion to the County Board a few years back to look at adopting a half-percent sales tax because A) Everyone else around us was doing it and B)There was just "nowhere else to cut" in the County budget.
Meanwhile, Mary Burke wants the Government to force employers to give low-skill, low-demand workers a 39% pay raise, the state to increase Medicaid spending by an estimated 280-million dollars, spend more on education at all levels and give up municipal government control of setting wages and benefits for its employees. Can someone let me know when the "Fiscal Conservatism" talk starts please?
What surprises me even more than these ludicrous claims is that so many Keynsian economists blame Fiscal Conservatism for the slow economic recovery. County Executive Harris and Ms Burke don't want to run afoul of geniuses like Paul Krugman and Timothy Geithner--who believe the only way to get things going again is to go farther into debt (both Government and personal) and spend like drunken sailors--do they?
To be fair, there are plenty of Republicans running around claiming they are Fiscal Conservatives and not backing that up either. I'm talking to everyone who rushed to vote in favor of giving away a projected budget surplus--instead of waiting to make sure it is an actual budget surplus.
Here is a handy little guide for politicians looking to cloak themselves in the mantle of "Fiscal Conservatism" to curry public support: If you support any efforts to increase government spending beyond the range of inflation, if you support tax increases on any income or business profits to pay for that increased spending, if you support increased debt to fund additional spending and if you believe in greater Government regulation of commerce or incursions into the private market system, and if you believe that people should not be accountable for their own financial decisions then you are NOT A FISCAL CONSERVATIVE!!!
Now excuse me as I go back to my debt-free, fully-funded retirement and health savings account, low-expense lifestyle.